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story.lead_photo.caption Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive talks with reporters during the SEC football Media Days in Hoover, Ala., Tuesday, July 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

For many years, this column would have been written from a plush room in the Sandestin Hilton in Florida, where the annual SEC spring meetings are conducted.

The air conditioning would be on high and the patio doors open to hear the surf of the emerald waters where thousands soak up the sun and play in the surf.

As the years passed the meetings became less eventful and coaches managed to get every room in the hotel booked for anyone other than the media, leaving reporters and radio show hosts to find other lodging close to but not at the resort.

The meetings started Tuesday, and so did the feeding frenzy as dozens of reporters try to get an interview with anyone whose title is coach.

It was the lack of news that made your trusty scribe decide the cost did not equal the value of news, although it is still on reserve in case something earthshaking like conference expansion is expected.

One thing that has been a constant at the spring meetings is that on Friday Commissioner Mike Slive will announce another record increase in revenue for the league's 14 members.

Slive is retiring. This will be his final SEC meetings, and he is being sent off in fine fashion with an invitation-only dinner in Atlanta next month.

Friday he is expected to announce a jaw-dropping increase in how much the SEC made this year.

This is the first payday from ESPN for the SEC Network, something that has been successful because of the passion of SEC fans more than the network's actual programming, but that's a column for a different day.

Slive -- and he, too, is a column for a different day -- is a shrewd businessman, and while he loves sports he was one of the first to embrace the simple fact that college athletics has become a business model.

Coaches are meeting today and tomorrow for some friendly and sometimes not-so-friendly exchanges of dialogue and suggestions for athletic directors, who also will meet and then make suggestions to their chancellors or presidents, who will actually decide on any changes.

Those will be announced along with the latest revenue figures Friday, long after the golf tournament and coaches -- few if any still play in the golf tournament -- have gone home.

The night before the announcements there will be a dinner to honor male and female student-athletes who have excelled in the classroom.

It was before one of those dinners a few years ago that Bev Lewis, then the women's athletic director at the University of Arkansas, introduced yours truly to Pat Summitt, the legendary women's basketball coach at Tennessee.

Summitt was gracious, kind and engaging. The meeting was a few months after Sports Illustrated had compared her to Bobby Knight.

She still wasn't thrilled, and when it was suggested that former UCLA Coach John Wooden might have been a better comparison, a smile spread across her face. It was followed by a firm hand grip and what seemed like a heartfelt "Really nice to have met you," and then everyone was on their way to the banquet.

Anyway, guesses at what the 2014 payout will be are astounding. The SEC would almost need a money printing machine if some of the figures are correct.

Keep in mind this is above the record $20.9 million each institution made in 2013.

Figures being mentioned run from an additional $5 million each to $34 million, but that might be a total figure, not just from the SEC Network.

Whatever it is, it will be the biggest news of this week.


Sports on 05/27/2015

Print Headline: SEC Network leads to pot of gold for league

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